THE OGEMA SOJOURN
Not too long after we moved to Ogema I made my first trip to Horse Creek, Saskatchewan. Brother Russell Elford, his wife, and family lived there. The church had just been nicely started by Brother C. W. Petch. I do not recall how many meetings I have held in the Horse Creek district but I did hold a meeting in the summer of 1931, I was there in 32, 33, 34, and 35. There were some obeyed the gospel in every meeting. I recall now that I preached in Brother Emory Tetreau's drive shed. I preached in the Lark Hill school house, Patriotic, Pebble Hill, Varsity, and in the village of, McCord. This has been a wonderful work and many have contributed to the success of this work.
One year, not too long ago, this church contributed six dollars per member per month to work outside their own congregation. Think what would be done if there were a few more churches that so contributed.
There is one more thing that I want to tell about the work in that part of the country and then we shall turn back to a great work in the Bengough district. In the fall of 1934 I was holding a meeting in the Patriotic school house. There were few attending but the members of the church. I had announced that I would preach on the Lusts of the Flesh and the Fruits of the Spirit. Just before the meeting was to start in walked three people who had never attended a meeting before. The lesson was not intended for people who had never heard one sermon. The thought came to my mind to change the subject. Second thought was, I announced it, and I shall preach it just as I intended. When the sermon was over the man came to me and said, That is the kind of preaching that I like. I wish you would come over to our school house and preach the same sermon. I went and preached the sermon. I put six sermons on each side of it. The man became obedient to the faith, so did both the women, one his wife and the other his sister-in-law. This man was Brother Martin Knutson, the father of Brother Magnar Knutson now a missionary in Norway.
There are two things that I shall always remember in connection with the conversion of Brother Knutson. It was a cold day in October when he was baptized. The water was ice cold. When he came from the bitter cold water, Brother Knutson turned and thanked me. I have baptized hundreds of people but he is the first person that publicly said Thank you, that I recall. One other thing in connection with this man's conversion. In making the good confession I have heard people say, Yes. I have heard them say I do. But when I asked Brother Knutson if he believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, he replied, Absolutely.
Sister Lock was instrumental in having the meeting held in Bures in the summer of 1930. Later that year they moved to Bengough. They asked me to come and hold a meeting in their home in Bengough. There was no money to rent a hall. We had a two week's meeting there and three people became obedient to the faith. Among those who attended that meeting was a Mrs. Pennock. She suggested that we hold a meeting in their school house. This we were very happy to do. When the meeting was two days old the trustees announced that we could not use the school house. Mrs. Pennock invited us to go to her home. I had announced there would be an opportunity to ask questions and so that second night in the school house this woman asked a question about infant baptism. I would rather not have had that question so early in the meeting but I answered it. As our audience was made up mostly of United Church people and Lutherans the answer was not very satisfactory. This opposition really advertised the meeting and the second night in that prairie home we had 65 people.
One of the trustees got up and said that they had not realized that the meeting would be such a community affair and said that we could go back to the school house. Back to the school house we went and we had as many as 95 people crowded into that country school house. The questions continued to pour in. So many, in fact, that one night all I did was answer questions. Some were in favour of the message and some were terribly opposed. One night I preached on How long go ye limping between two sides. I challenged the sects to defend their doctrine. The people present were willing but the preachers demurred. However, the Lutherans put enough pressure on their man that a night was set for a public discussion. There were about 400 people gathered. The results were not too encouraging for the teachers of error. The Anglicans-Episcopalians in the United States then insisted that their man should do battle. Even a larger crowd assembled that night. Mr. Snowden, a relative of the English Snowdens of some fame in the Labour movement in England, was the preacher for Ogema and Bengough at the time. I do not remember how I got the information now but I found out that Mr. Snowden claimed to be somewhat of a Greek scholar. In my first speech I called Mr. Snowden's attention to the fact that he was a Greek scholar and that I thereby challenged him to tell us what this word baptize meant in the Greek language. When Mr. Snowden got up, he said, Of course, baptism means immersion, but our church permits us to practice sprinkling. This was a complete vindication of what I had been contending for in the meeting. The effect on the audience was tremendous. In fact Mr. Snowden so sensed what had happened that he did not even finish his time by nearly twenty minutes.
Those who were opposing the truth were almost desperate by this time. The United Church preacher had made some rather derogatory remarks so I challenged him the night of the debate with the Lutheran preacher to a public discussion. He was furious but he made it plain that he was not debating. There was a man in the community, who had some reputation as a debater, so those who were opposing the truth put him forward. We debated the church proposition. Despite his reputation he did not fill out his time.
So this phase of the work ended. I had preached nineteen sermons, and had debated three nights. Nineteen had rendered obedience to the gospel. Some of these have answered the last summons, a few were unfaithful to their confession but most of these are still faithful members of the church. They now own a nice little church building in the town of Bengough where they worship God according to that which is written.
I know that my friends would be surprised and disappointed if I did not say something about tobacco. I shall neither surprise, nor disappoint. In a meeting that I held later in this same community, Brother Hector MacLeod became obedient to the faith. Brother Hector was a terrible tobacco user. When he first started attending the services he could hardly wait until the Amen was said to get out on the steps of the Lambton school house to have a drag. The day that he had made up his mind to confess his faith in Christ he told the lady where he was staying that she could take that other package of tobacco back to town. He would not be using it. She looked at him dumfounded. He said, As of now I have quit. Hector had a hard struggle -- but he quit.
In this same period of time Brother Knutson became obedient to the gospel. He is mentioned earlier in this chapter. He had heard the teaching for ten days. He was on his way to town. He said to himself, For eighteen years I have been looking for some people that are just God's people -- I have found them. It is up to me to go with them. What can I do to show that I can repent? He thought of his snuff box in his hip pocket. He reached into the pocket and threw the snuff into the ditch. Brother Knutson said, afterward, that it did not even bother him to give up the dirty habit.
It was during this time that I held a meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba. There was a family that was so hard up they could not afford to come into the meeting. We went out to their place on Sunday afternoon for a service. When we got there, the young man of the place came out without a shirt on, and a cigarette drooping out of the comer of his mouth. I was disgusted. I remember how loathsome the sight was. I do not remember speaking to this young man about it but I do remember how I felt. Some years later he said to me, Brother Bailey, have you noticed that I do not use tobacco any more?
I said, I have not seen you use it.
He said, No, after what you said to me that day at St. Andrews I made up my mind that I would never use it again.
I said, What did I say?
He said, I really do not remember what you said but I do remember that I made up my mind that I would never use it again.
I said, I am sorry that you do not remember, for there are some other people to whom I would like to say the same thing. I later said the words that joined this young man to a fine Christian companion. They are raising a Christian family.
One more account and I must turn again to other things. It was during this period that I became acquainted with a brother in Regina. His home was my home many times. So hospitable was this man that he told me that it did not matter what time of the day or night I was passing through Regina I was to stop at his house. Before his conversion, and I had no part in it, he had been a bad man to drink. He gave that up. One day he said to me that he had mastered every bad habit he had but the tobacco habit. While I was living in Meaford, Ontario, I was called to preach his funeral ser mon. He died with a cancer of the throat or lungs, in all probability caused by his use of tobacco. He left three young folks at the age when they really NEEDED a father. All are unfaithful to the church as well as his wife. Only eternity will reveal the harm that was done when this good man did not quit this bad habit.
Some times people say, I cannot quit, I would like to,' but I can't. Then we shall have to start rewriting our Bible for we can do, all things through Him that strengthens us. My God shall supply every need of ours. There is no temptation taken man but such as man can bear. We could go on and on but apparently the Lord did not know???? about tobacco when He wrote these things. God is NO respecter of persons. Thousands have quit and so can YOU IF YOU REALLY WANT TO. You should want to.
There has perhaps been no single thing that has been more helpful to the work in Western Canada than our Bible School work that finally evolved into the Western Christian College, now of Weyburn, Saskatchewan.
Among the charter members of the church at Radville were Brother and Sister Ed. Jacobson. They were baptized by Brother H. A. Rogers when he started that work. The following summer their daughter, Lillian, became obedient to the faith. She hoped to attend a Christian College in the South but the depression made that seem unrealistic. She conceived the idea of a Bible School locally. Brother Wilfred Orr and Brother C. W. Petch were discussing this one night when I dropped into Brother Orr's house at Minton. The time was set but I was not there for the first two weeks of this three weeks' school. This school was a far cry from the modern Vacation Bible School which usually runs one week any more. This school ran for three weeks. There were classes from nine in the morning and they lasted until four in the afternoon. There were classes in Old Testament, New Testament, Public Reading, Bible Geography, Church History, as well as Public Speaking. This was the summer of 1931.
This school was such a success that when we had a school at Radville in the summer of 1932 there were students there not only from many parts in Saskatchewan, but also from Manitoba and Montana. It was the only summer school there was. During that school there were 18 that became obedient to the faith. Brother Wilfred Orr acted as principal. . This year there will be a dozen or more Vacation Bible Schools held in Saskatchewan, to say nothing of the schools that will be held in Manitoba and Montana.
The thought was then born, if a three weeks' school in the summer was good, then a three months' school in the winter would be better. We never stopped to think or did we, that we were in the middle of the worst depression Western Canada had ever seen. To add to our troubles we had very poor crops during the thirties through the southern part of the province where nearly all the small congregations were located but we carried on. On the first day of December, 1932, our school started. We had a wonderful school. It was in a rented building and we took food in lieu of cash and the girls did the cooking and paid their way. I do not remember the figures for that year but the following winter we had a four months school. We had between forty and fifty students, and in cash to pay rent, lights, buy food, etc., we had the grand total of $645.00. When the term ended we had all bills paid. No one had suffered from malnutrition. Now we take in thousands of dollars and we are thousands of dollars in debt. Could we not learn something from those early days?
There is another event in this period that I think should be recorded. A Rawleigh Dealer called at a house one day and a woman there was reading one of Judge Rutherford's books. He told her that he did not know much about the Bible but he did not think she should be reading those books. He further told her that if she were interested in learning Bible that she should write a letter to J. C. Bailey at Ogema. He would tell her more about the Bible than she could ever learn from those books. She wrote me a letter and I soon went to Crichton, Saskatchewan. This woman was one of the finest Bible students I have ever met. I not only preached every night but hours were spent every day studying the Word of God. In the course of time she and her husband confessed their faith in Christ. The day she was baptized she said there was a terrible sin in her life and she was afraid the Lord would not forgive her. I assured her that Jesus was able to save to the UTTERMOST. Brother Earl Jacobs spent a summer in that part of the country and helped these few new members much. There were several others that rendered obedience to the gospel. This sister continued to be a good Bible student but after these few brethren were left to themselves again old fears came back to haunt her and her mind snapped because of this old sin. The nature of the sin I do not know. This good woman still lingers in mental institutions. There are several lessons we might learn from this. Those who are young in the faith, no matter how zealous, are often left alone too soon. Secondly, we should pray God that our faith fail not in the promises of the Lord. Our sin he remembers no more.
In 1933 the summer was hot and dry. This kind of weather is hard on expectant mothers. On August 11th our first baby girl was born. We had four boys. How happy we were for our baby girl. Times were hard but one more mouth to feed was considered no hardship. WE HAD A GIRL.
My God shall supply every need of yours is a real promise. During this period under review I held a number of meetings in Winnipeg. In the spring of 1933 1 was asked to come down and hold a meeting. It was more than 400 miles from Ogema to Winnipeg and I had two dollars with which to make the trip. How could I drive a car 400 miles for two dollars? The word got around town that I was going to Winnipeg. In all there were five people that came to me and asked me for a ride, and what would I charge. I told them that they could pay half the gas and oil. I arrived in Winnipeg with eight dollars and my gas and oil paid for.
There were two important events in 1935. On what the world knows as Easter, at high noon, our fifth boy came to bless our household. I was so disappointed that I was sick. I was sure that we would have a little sister for Marie. How foolish I was. John is our preacher boy and in my work, especially when we printed the Gospel Herald, he was a great help to me. How glad we are NOW that God overruled the way He did.
It was during this period that I met A. R. Scherling for any of my Brethren. Brother L. L. McGill and I discussed the class question at Knoxville. I believe that there is a better way to discuss differences with brethren than debating. Years later I discussed differences with Brother Carl Ketcherside in Regina. A different method was used and I think it was much better.
It was during this period that I met A. R. Scherling for the first time at Bengough, Saskatchewan. Three times we have met and we discussed each time the question of Conscience. These debates have been published twice. The first publication has long since been sold, but the last debate is still available.
Is Conscience a safe guide? Is Conscience a guide at All? I know of no place that this often misunderstood subject is so thoroughly discussed as in the Scherling-Bailey Debate. Mr. Scherling affirms that Conscience is a supreme guide. This book can be supplied at a very nominal price.
I said that there were two very important events in 1935. I told you about one of them and then started wandering off to tell you about some debates. I was asked to take charge of the Bible School at Perryville in 1935. There was a preaching service each night. There were five that rendered obedience to the gospel; among those was our oldest son!. Two years later there was not a part in the service he could not take and often did. How we wish that ability were more fully utilized in the kingdom of God now.
In the spring of 1935. I went to Montana for two more meetings. One was at Lolo, Montana. This was the first meeting that was held in the Bitter Root. There are now two congregations in that part of the country: Missoula and Hamilton. That meeting may not have had anything to do with either churches but from that time on efforts were made to put the church there on a permanent basis. I have returned to that part of the country a number of times to help in the work.
After the Lolo meeting I went to visit Brother Joe Lewis and his family who were spending that winter in Kalispel. The Christian Church was having a meeting at the time and we went over there. The preacher asked every one that would to get up and quote a verse of Scripture. An old brother got up and his name was called. When we were on the way home that night I said to Brother Lewis,
I think that man is a member of the church. I think I saw his name in one of our religious papers. The next day we went out to see old Brother Hendrickson. He was overjoyed and was glad to have fellow Christians with which to meet who did not use the instrument. This very definitely had to do with the work in Kalispel. Brother Hendrickson has been called to his reward but a number of the members of his family are faithful to the Lord in Montana.
Sometimes brethren ask me how I manage to get into places for mission meetings. I ask God to overrule. I watch for every opening and then do my best to co-operate with God in making a harvest possible.
After three years in Ogema it was decided to move the school to Radville. We had a church building there to use. Renting buildings in Ogema had not been too satisfactory. Brother Orr took charge of the school in the winter of 1935-36. We moved to a little place just on the outskirts of Ogema. We kept a cow and some pigs, as well as some chickens. It was a big help. The house, however, though it was practically a new house, was the coldest house I have ever seen. Any one living in the Southern States would never believe me if I told them how cold that house was. So we shall just leave that part of the story untold. Any way the place was sold and we could not find a satisfactory place to live in the village so we bought an old house from the town in Radville. We moved there in the fall of 1936. Brother Orr in the meantime had moved to the Coast so I was in charge of the Bible School that winter in Radville.
Money was scarce in those days but this I remember. Brother Lock when his summer's work was over found himself with two dollars left. He gave me one of those dollars. If such sacrifices were made today we would not have men to use the money that would be available. Jesus did not tell the story of the widow's mite for nothing. Brother Krogsgaard had moved us to Ogema with his team but we were able to hire a truck to move back to Radville.
We bought the house for $250.00 in Radville. We paid no cash. (Just so much per month.) The windows were out and the children had used it for a play house. With her characteristic zeal for getting rid of dirt my wife went at that house and soon it was a home and not a house.
Jesus reproved Martha, in the long ago, when she let her housework interfere with listening to HIS WORD but God honours the worthy woman who looks well to the ways of her household. During these trying years my wife proved that she was a good wife and a good mother. Dollars we had few but her price was far above rubies.
Published in The Old Paths Archive
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